Product photos need to be white and uncluttered in order to draw the viewer’s attention to the product. However, photographing a transparent object against a totally white, untextured background presents its own challenges.
We usually ‘see’ transparent objects because they distort the appearance of the background behind them when light rays refract through the transparent objects into our eyes. When photographing a wine glass against a white backdrop, the distortion of a uniform background is not evident, so we end up with a faint outline instead of a clear, attention-grabbing subject. This is especially true for completely clear, thin glass objects.
The outline of the glass jar above almost disappears at some points, causing the jar to blend into the background. The glass jar would not be very visible if not for the patterns and the black cap.
How to make glass visible against a white background
We can make use of the reflective properties of glass to give it a visible outline. We do this by placing black sheets on both sides of the glass object. The edges of the glass will reflect the image of the black sheet, giving the entire glass object a darker, visible outline. At the same time, the glass is still superimposed against a white background.
After taking a second to set the background white (it really just takes one click with Microsoft Picture Manager)…
The reflection of the black sheets has made the glass outline visible. We can remove the sheets from the picture by simply cropping them out.
If your glass product is a mug, jar or cup, you can fill the glass with coloured water or juice so that the shape of the glass becomes visible. This method has the advantage of framing the product within a lifestyle frame, helping your customers visualize their use.
However, this method will not work for most glass items such as glass sculptures.
All photographs and tips in this tutorial applies to photographs taken in our Plug & Play Lightboxes